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14 February 2017

Trump’s national security adviser quits

Michael-Flynn

Michael Flynn encouraged a softer policy on Russia and a harder line on Iran

Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has resigned over his contacts with Russia, the White House has announced.

Mr Flynn is alleged to have discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Mr Trump took office.

He is said to have misled officials about the conversation. Earlier, US media reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House about the contacts late last month.

They said that Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. Senior Democrats had called for Mr Flynn to be fired. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and the calls happened late last year before Mr Flynn was appointed to the administration.

In his letter of resignation, Mr Flynn said he had “inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador”.

A White House statement said Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg had been appointed as interim replacement. Mr Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf. However, Mr Flynn later told the White House that sanctions may have been discussed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Mr Flynn and Mr Kislyak did not discuss lifting sanctions.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday called for Mr Trump to fire Mr Flynn, tweeting that he “cannot be trusted to serve America’s best interests and national security instead of Russia’s”.

Several House Democrats have called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn’s ties to Russia.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said it would also be “troubling” if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government before taking office. Mr Flynn, who was previously fired by Barack Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during the campaign.

He became a close ally of both the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. He encouraged tougher policies on Iran and a softer policy on Russia, but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow.

 

Source: BBC

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